Acoustic data suggest early European painters preferred echo chambers
Ancient rock artists were drawn to echo chambers. Members of early farming communities in Europe painted images in rock-shelters where sounds bounced off walls and into the surrounding countryside, researchers say.
Rock-shelters lacking such sound effects were passed up, at least in the central Mediterranean, report archaeologist Margarita Díaz-Andreu of the University of Barcelona and colleagues in the July Journal of Archaeological Science. In landscapes with many potential rock art sites, “the few shelters chosen to be painted were those that have special acoustic properties,” Díaz-Andreu says.
Some hunter-gatherer and farming groups studied over the past couple centuries believed in spirits that dwell in rock and reveal their presence via echoes. But acoustic evidence of special echoing properties at rock art sites is rare.